Words and Photos: Simon Stewart
Ambush Knee: $100 | Indy Elbow: $60 | raceface.com
A good knee or elbow guard review really could be as simple as: "They work, they're comfortable and they haven't fallen apart – done." In that respect, my first impression is that Race Face nailed it with these two guards. In the, ‘they work’ department, Race Face uses D30 on both of them, a very clever material that stays malleable until impacted then it becomes rigid and dissipates the force. Having crashed in these guards I'm thankful for its effectiveness. I'm not talking about a wee topple over either; I cased a step-down gap jump and slid 10 feet on gravel. The impact separated my shoulder, ground down my full-face and tore my shorts, but thanks to the guards my knees and elbows were unscathed.
For comfort, the Ambush knee guards have a perforated neoprene back and terry lining, while the Indy elbows get a flatlock seamed butterfly mesh sleeve. I found them both to be super comfy – the put-them-on-and-forget-about-them kind of comfy. The bipolar D30 material adds to the high comfort rating, giving you the comfort of a soft shell pad with the protection of a hard shell. I've done some fairly long climbs in them so far and pedaling in them is no problem. Ninety-five degrees in the desert could be another story, but since I have yet to wear them in these conditions, I can't comment on their ability to not cook your knees or elbows. I will say that due to the versatile open-back design of the knee guards, which allows you to quickly and easily take them on and off without removing your shoes, that even if they did turn my knees into a sweaty mess I would be more apt to simply remove them on longer climbs.
Lastly, they shrugged off my attempt to destroy them while skiing them across a gravel road, so lack of toughness does not seem to be an issue. I like to think I have a discerning eye for quality and looking at the stitching and overall quality of construction, I have no reason to suspect anything but a long life.
Keep in mind these are different models, with the Ambush being one rung higher on the protection ladder. I like the combination of a lower profile, lighter duty elbow guard with a burlier knee guard. Race Face also makes an Ambush elbow guard and vice versa, an Indy knee guard. I'm fully in love with the open back design of the Ambush knee guards, what a bloody good idea. This, in conjunction with their other attributes makes them my new favorites. They work, they're comfy and they're still in one piece – done.